The Freedom Day That Is Known as Juneteenth

The Freedom Day That Is Known as Juneteenth

“Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day. Although it has long been celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event remains largely unknown to most Americans.”

In Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order Number 3, which stated that enslaved people were free. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, the enslaved people in Galveston did not get word of this freedom until almost two and half years later. Juneteenth is the shortened version of June Nineteenth, a celebration that took place a year later in 1866. Juneteenth has been celebrated in Galveston, Texas, ever since. In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, “nobody’s free until everybody’s free,” which is why this independent celebration is still so important to be observed.  

How Is Juneteenth Celebrated?

Now across many cities in our country, Black Americans celebrate this holiday as our independence day. Juneteenth is referred to as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day,” or “Emancipation Day.” These celebrations include prayer and religious services, speeches, educational events, family gatherings and barbeques, and festivals with music, food, and dancing. Drinking strawberry soda is a long-standing tradition of the day. 

Time of Reflection & Action

Check to see what your city or town is doing to commemorate Juneteenth. This is an opportunity to partake in the festivities and to support locally owned Black businesses that are usually the vendors at these events. Hopefully, this will lead to supporting Black-owned businesses throughout the year. Some companies have decided to make Juneteenth a holiday. Also, 47 states and the District of Columbia are observing or celebrating the holiday. Maybe your state is one of those states. Furthermore, see if your state has legislation to make Juneteenth a paid holiday.

Plus, it looks like Juneteenth is close to becoming a federal holiday. On June 15, 2021, the Senate passed the bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The House of Representatives has to vote on the bill, then President Biden would have to sign it. Let us continue to learn the fullness of our American history.

Below are the resources that I used to write about this holiday. There are so many more resources out there. One of my favorite historians, Annette Gordon-Reed, wrote the book On Juneteenth, published this year. These resources can help lead you on a journey to commemorating this holiday that many Black Americans have been celebrating for years. 

Resources About Juneteenth

Discover more on Juneteenth and history in Infobase’s acclaimed American History and African-American History databases. Simply by using the suggested search term “Juneteenth” users will discover a range of articles on this topic, from critically acclaimed reference titles such as the Encyclopedia of African-American Politics, Third Edition and Civil War and Reconstruction, Third Edition.

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